13 December 2018
Chinese authorities are faced with regulatory challenges as the mobile gaming market explodes. Photo: Reuters
Chinese authorities are faced with regulatory challenges as the mobile gaming market explodes. Photo: Reuters

POLICY WATCH: Playing the mobile gaming market

As the mobile gaming market gallops at a furious pace in China, attracting plenty of game developers as well as investors from across the world, authorities are scrambling to get a better handle on the sector. 

To ensure that the industry grows along desired lines, Beijing has outlined plans to step up market supervision and look into the regulatory issues. The government will encourage innovation and support key projects, but it also needs to curb illegal activities, an official made it clear this week.

Song Jianxin, director with the digital publishing department of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, told an industry conference in Hangzhou on Wednesday that the agency is taking a closer look at the mobile gaming sector and that it will issue a new industry circular soon.

Market oversight is a key aspect, Song said, without going into details as to what the circular would actually contain. That said, he gave a positive signal that the industry could be helped to tap into social funding for its development. 

The comments came as e-commerce giant Alibaba Group announced that is launching a mobile gaming platform in China, venturing into a fast-growing sector that is currently dominated by internet giant Tencent Holdings.

With wider coverage of high-speed 3G services and the ongoing rollout of 4G networks across the nation, mobile phone users in China are seeking new applications on their mobile devices. Mobile gaming is one of the applications that have caught the fancy of users, amid diversified distribution channels and applications download stores such as Apple’s App Store and various platforms running on Google’s Android operating system.

However, domestic game developers are facing escalating competition as overseas game firms are able to bring their products easily to China with some customization for the local market. To prevent foreign game developers from dominating the Chinese market, the government may adopt a stricter approach towards overseas game products by way of content scrutiny, just like what Beijing is currently doing in the online game market.

Due to the low entry barrier, the mobile game industry has been witnessing fierce competition. According to market research firm iResearch, China’s mobile game industry had 905 players in the first half of 2013, up from 739 in the same period the previous year. 

However, number of mobile game products fell to 1,926 in the first half of 2013 from 1,950 in the corresponding period in 2012. Thus, it can be inferred that the average output of a mobile game enterprise fell to 2.1 products in a half year from 2.6 as intense competition altered the development research cycle of products.

To protect the industry, the government may consider new rules to help game developers secure copyrights on their products and prevent others from infringing the intellectual property.

China’s mobile gaming market in 2013 was worth more than 11.24 billion yuan (US$1.84 billion), government authorities said at the gaming industry summit on Wednesday. That marks a whopping 246 percent growth over the previous year. The sector covered about one eighth of the country’s total gaming market, Song said.

– Contact the reporter at [email protected]


EJ Insight writer

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